Policy Analysis

Policy Brief – Is Public Pre-K Preparing Hispanic Children to Succeed in School?


Hispanic children who attend high-quality preschool programs have been found to benefit as much as children from other backgrounds, and sometimes more.

By Luis M. Laosa and Pat Ainsworth NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 13, March 2007) Summary While public preschool programs are expanding across the country, there is a lag in participation by the nation’s fastest growing and yet most educationally challenged

Policy Brief – Building Early Childhood Facilities: What States Can Do to Create Supply and Promote Quality


This brief explores common facility issues and outlines strategies for policymakers to address early care and education facility needs.

By Carl Sussman and Amy Gillman NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 14, April 2007) Summary Much of the growth in early care and education can be attributed to research that shows the educational, social, and economic benefits of high-quality preschool education

Policy Brief – Preschool Curriculum Decision-Making: Dimensions to Consider


This report provides a framework for decision-makers to use in evaluating which curriculum might be most appropriate for their specific preschool education program.

By Ellen Frede and Debra J. Ackerman NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 12, March 2007) Summary The educational effectiveness of preschool relies on a program’s curriculum, or the content of what children learn in preschool and how it is taught. Given the multi

Policy Report – Early Childhood Development and Social Mobility


This policy report examines the effects of preschool education on social mobility in the United States.

By W. Steven Barnett and Clive R. Belfield NIEER Policy Report (October 2006) Summary This policy report examines the effects of preschool education on social mobility in the United States, noting that many current programs fail to enroll even half of

A Review of the Reason Foundation’s Report on Preschool and Kindergarten


An analysis by NIEER of the Reason Foundation's report Assessing proposals for preschool and kindergarten: Essential information for parents, taxpayers and policymaker.

A Review of the Reason Foundation’s Report on Preschool and Kindergarten By W. Steven Barnett 2006 Summary NIEER Director Steve Barnett’s analysis finds that the Reason Foundation (RF) report is an unreliable source of information about preschool educa

Policy Brief – Increasing the Effectiveness of Preschool Programs


This policy brief reviews research on the inputs contributing to quality and the features of preschool programs that impact children's learning and development.

By Debra J. Ackerman and W. Steven Barnett NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 11, July 2006) Summary Although positive gains have been produced by high-quality preschool programs, the quality of programs currently available is far from uniform, with the vast ma

Policy Brief – Early Literacy: Policy and Practice in the Preschool Years


Early literacy plays a key role in enabling the kind of early learning experiences that research shows are linked with academic achievement, reduced grade retention, higher graduation rates and enhanced productivity in adult life. This policy brief synthesizes the body of professional knowledge about early literacy and offers research-based recommendations.

By Dorothy S. Strickland and Shannon Riley-Ayers NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 10, April 2006) Summary As early childhood education moves front and center in the public policy debate, more attention is being paid to early literacy. Early literacy plays a k

Policy Report – The Benefits of Prekindergarten for Middle Income Children


This policy report analyzes what the research says about access to and gains made in high-quality preschool programs by children from middle-income families. Recommendations include expanding publicly funded preschool programs to include middle-income children and strengthening standards for child care and early education programs.

The Benefits of Prekindergarten for Middle Income Children By Karen Schulman and W. Steven Barnett NIEER Policy Report (March 2005) View the full policy report Summary Many children from middle-income families enter kindergarten behind their peers, oft

Policy Report – Promoting Children’s Social and Emotional Development Through Preschool Education


This policy brief describes the importance of social and emotional development of children, reviews the evidence that high-quality preschool can promote social and emotional development, and describes characteristics of programs most likely to benefit children.

By Judi Boyd, W. Steven Barnett, Elena Bodrova, Deborah J. Leong, and Deanna Gomby NIEER Policy Brief (March 2005) Summary This policy brief describes the importance of social and emotional development of children, reviews the evidence that high-qualit

Policy Report – Prepared for Kindergarten: What Does “Readiness” Mean?


This policy report examines key issues for public policy related to school readiness, the relationship between school readiness and other factors in young children’s lives, and challenges in readying children for kindergarten.

By Debra J. Ackerman and W. Steven Barnett NIEER Policy Report (March 2005) Summary What does school readiness mean? From age-eligibility requirements to readiness testing and from academics to social skills, it often depends on whom you ask. Studies h

Policy Report – Overlooked Benefits of Prekindergarten


Studies suggest that prekindergarten can strengthen a child’s commitment and attitude toward school, enhance the parenting skills of children’s parents, and have positive impacts on family relationships. This policy report summarizes research findings about these wider benefits of early education.

By Karen Schulman NIEER Policy Report (March 2005) View the full policy report Summary Studies have shown that high-quality prekindergarten can better prepare children for school, increase their chances of academic success, and even enable them to avoi

Policy Report – Making the Most of Kindergarten


This policy report examines academic and social outcomes of half-day versus full-day kindergarten and trends in provision of full-day programs. Recommendations include balancing anticipated gains from expanding kindergarten schedules against cost considerations and developing classroom and teacher support strategies when moving to full-day.

Making the Most of Kindergarten: Present Trends and Future Issues in the Provision of Full-day Programs By Debra J. Ackerman, W. Steven Barnett, and Kenneth B. Robin NIEER Policy Report (March 2005) Summary Policymakers considering the shift to full-da

Policy Brief – Class Size: What’s the Best Fit?


This policy brief examines how class size and staff-child ratios affect quality, educational effectiveness, and cost of preschool programs.

By W. Steven Barnett, Karen Schulman, and Rima Shore NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 9, December 2004) Summary Is there a link between class size and the quality of preschool? Do the gains to children in the form of more individual attention and fewer stress

Policy Brief – Better Teachers, Better Preschools: Student Achievement Linked to Teacher Qualifications


High-quality preschool education depends on effective, high-quality teachers. This brief presents educational requirements for preschool teachers, reviews evidence on the importance of teacher qualifications, and offers policy recommendations.

By W. Steven Barnett NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 2, revised December 2004) Summary Research has linked early learning and development to the educational qualifications of teachers. The most effective preschool teachers – those with at least a four-year c

Policy Brief – Preschool Assessment: A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach


This policy brief examines assessment of learning among preschoolers and the trend toward increased standardized testing of young children. The brief offers definitions and applications of assessment concepts and policy recommendations essential to a balanced approach.

By Ann S. Epstein, Lawrence J. Schweinhart, Andrea DeBruin-Parecki and Kenneth B. Robin NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 7, July 2004) Summary This brief from NIEER examines assessment of learning among preschoolers and the trend toward increased standardized

Policy Brief – The Universal vs. Targeted Debate: Should the United States Have Preschool for All?


The debate over universal vs. targeted preschool programs is explored in this policy brief. Policy recommendations include a gradual move toward voluntary universal preschool programs with federal matching funds used to encourage states to fund high-quality preschool for all.

By W. Steven Barnett, Kirsty Brown, and Rima Shore NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 6, April 2004) Summary The debate over universal vs. targeted preschool programs is explored in this policy brief. While targeted programs traditionally have lower costs, univ

Policy Brief – Child Outcome Standards in Pre-K Programs


This policy brief provides an overview of the extension of the standards movement to preschool programs. It presents the conditions and special considerations necessary for standards to have a positive impact on preschool children and strengthen accountability.

By Elena Bodrova, Deborah Leong, and Rima Shore NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 5, March 2004) Summary In the early childhood field, terms such as building blocks, desired results, or learning goals have all been used to describe the kinds of development and

Policy Brief – Investing in Head Start Teachers


What will it cost to give Head Start the tools it needs to succeed? This brief includes information on the qualifications and compensation of Head Start teachers and discusses the issues surrounding the push towards raising both.

NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 4, September 2003) Summary What will it cost to give Head Start the tools it needs to succeed? It will take an investment in teachers. A fully certified teacher in every Head Start classroom stands as the single most effective

Policy Brief – Low Wages = Low Quality: Solving the Real Preschool Teacher Crisis


This brief looks at salaries for preschool teachers and child care workers and provides evidence of the effects of poor pay and employee benefits on teacher morale, turnover rates, and ultimately on educational quality.

By W. Steven Barnett NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 3, May 2003) Summary Evidence points to the low wages and benefits offered to preschool teachers as the single most important factor in hiring and keeping good teachers. In fact, preschool programs with th

Policy Brief – High Quality Preschool: Why We Need It and What It Looks Like


Research has shown that 3- and 4-year-olds, especially those who are at risk for school failure, when placed in high-quality preschool programs are more successful in their future academic and social development. This policy brief calls for the improvement of early education and care in our nation by focusing on what is critical for the child, family, teacher, curriculum, and classroom.

By Linda M. Espinosa NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 1, November 2002) Summary Research has shown that 3- and 4-year-olds, especially those who are at risk for school failure, when placed in high-quality preschool programs are more successful in their future